I’ve read that poetry is a lot easier to write, and in most regards, it is. This is why you probably find poets churning out poetry like no one’s business. It’s a great way to let your creativity flow without the constant nitpicking and editing one does, as is often the case of short stories and novels. For those who have written anything 100 pages or longer, you know what I mean. This isn’t to say poetry doesn’t have a place in the writing world. It does and should because there are great poets out there, past and present, that labored just as hard on their works.
A Poison Tree by William Blake
I was angry with my friend: I told my wrath, my wrath did end. I was angry with my foe: I told it not, my wrath did grow.
And I watered it in fears Night and morning with my tears, And I sunned it with smiles And with soft deceitful wiles.
And it grew both day and night, Till it bore an apple bright, And my foe beheld it shine, And he knew that it was mine,–
And into my garden stole When the night had veiled the pole; In the morning, glad, I see My foe outstretched beneath the tree.
Because I could not stop for Death – by Emily Dickinson
Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –
We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –
Or rather – He passed Us –
The Dews drew quivering and Chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –
We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –
Since then – ’tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity –
Her Voice by Oscar Wilde
The wild bee reels from bough to bough With his furry coat and his gauzy wing. Now in a lily-cup, and now Setting a jacinth bell a-swing, In his wandering; Sit closer love: it was here I trow I made that vow,
Swore that two lives should be like one As long as the sea-gull loved the sea, As long as the sunflower sought the sun,—
It shall be, I said, for eternity ‘Twixt you and me! Dear friend, those times are over and done, Love’s web is spun.
Look upward where the poplar trees Sway and sway in the summer air, Here in the valley never a breeze Scatters the thistledown, but there Great winds blow fair From the mighty murmuring mystical seas,
And the wave-lashed leas.
Look upward where the white gull screams, What does it see that we do not see? Is that a star? or the lamp that gleams On some outward voyaging argosy,— Ah! can it be We have lived our lives in a land of dreams! How sad it seems.
Sweet, there is nothing left to say But this, that love is never lost,
Keen winter stabs the breasts of May Whose crimson roses burst his frost, Ships tempest-tossed Will find a harbour in some bay, And so we may.
And there is nothing left to do But to kiss once again, and part, Nay, there is nothing we should rue, I have my beauty,—you your Art, Nay, do not start,
One world was not enough for two Like me and you.
Sick by Shel Silverstein
“I cannot go to school today,” Said little Peggy Ann McKay. “I have the measles and the mumps, A gash, a rash and purple bumps. My mouth is wet, my throat is dry, I’m going blind in my right eye. My tonsils are as big as rocks, I’ve counted sixteen chicken pox And there’s one more–that’s seventeen, And don’t you think my face looks green? My leg is cut–my eyes are blue– It might be instamatic flu. I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke, I’m sure that my left leg is broke– My hip hurts when I move my chin, My belly button’s caving in, My back is wrenched, my ankle’s sprained, My ‘pendix pains each time it rains. My nose is cold, my toes are numb. I have a sliver in my thumb. My neck is stiff, my voice is weak, I hardly whisper when I speak. My tongue is filling up my mouth, I think my hair is falling out. My elbow’s bent, my spine ain’t straight, My temperature is one-o-eight. My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear, There is a hole inside my ear. I have a hangnail, and my heart is–what? What’s that? What’s that you say? You say today is. . .Saturday? G’bye, I’m going out to play!”
Caged Bird by Maya Angelou
The free bird leaps on the back of the wind and floats downstream till the current ends and dips his wings in the orange sun rays and dares to claim the sky.
But a bird that stalks down his narrow cage can seldom see through his bars of rage his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings with fearful trill of the things unknown but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom
The free bird thinks of another breeze and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn and he names the sky his own.
But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing
The caged bird sings with a fearful trill of things unknown but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom.
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim Because it was grassy and wanted wear, Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference
Alone by Edgar Allan Poe
From childhood’s hour I have not been As others were; I have not seen As others saw; I could not bring My passions from a common spring. From the same source I have not taken My sorrow; I could not awaken My heart to joy at the same tone; And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then- in my childhood, in the dawn Of a most stormy life- was drawn From every depth of good and ill The mystery which binds me still: From the torrent, or the fountain, From the red cliff of the mountain, From the sun that round me rolled In its autumn tint of gold, From the lightning in the sky As it passed me flying by, From the thunder and the storm, And the cloud that took the form (When the rest of Heaven was blue) Of a demon in my view.
Black Cat (Schwarze Katze) by Rainer Maria Rilke
A ghost, though invisible, still is like a place your sight can knock on, echoing; but here within this thick black pelt, your strongest gaze will be absorbed and utterly disappear:
just as a raving madman, when nothing else can ease him, charges into his dark night howling, pounds on the padded wall, and feels the rage being taken in and pacified.
She seems to hide all looks that have ever fallen into her, so that, like an audience, she can look them over, menacing and sullen, and curl to sleep with them. But all at once
as if awakened, she turns her face to yours; and with a shock, you see yourself, tiny, inside the golden amber of her eyeballs suspended, like a prehistoric fly.
Carpe Diem by William Shakespeare
O mistress mine, where are you roaming? O stay and hear! your true-love’s coming That can sing both high and low; Trip no further, pretty sweeting, Journey’s end in lovers’ meeting— Every wise man’s son doth know.
What is love? ’tis not hereafter; Present mirth hath present laughter; What’s to come is still unsure: In delay there lies no plenty,— Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty, Youth’s a stuff will not endure.
Insomnia by Elizabeth Bishop
The moon in the bureau mirror looks out a million miles (and perhaps with pride, at herself, but she never, never smiles) far and away beyond sleep, or perhaps she’s a daytime sleeper.
By the Universe deserted, she’d tell it to go to hell, and she’d find a body of water, or a mirror, on which to dwell. So wrap up care in a cobweb and drop it down the well
into that world inverted where left is always right, where the shadows are really the body, where we stay awake all night, where the heavens are shallow as the sea is now deep, and you love me.